Friday, January 21, 2011

B³ Weekend Preview: Sioux City and Dubuque

The Lincoln Stars (15-14-1, 31 points, eighth place in the USHL Western Conference) will play one game at home, and one on the road this weekend when the black and blue face off against the Sioux City Musketeers at the IceBox on Friday, and then against the Dubuque Fighting Saints in Dubuque, Iowa on Saturday.  Faceoff for the game Friday night at the IceBox will be at 7:05pm CST.  Faceoff for the game Saturday night in Dubuque will be at 7:00pm CST.  Click here to listen to Mike Melbye call the games on AM 1480 KLMS.  If you have money to burn, you can also watch the games via B2 Network by clicking here.  If you want to follow Pointstreak boxscore, click here.

The Sioux City Musketeers (16-13-3, 35 points, sixth place in the USHL Western Conference) will return to the IceBox tonight just two days after getting beat in overtime on the same sheet of ice by the Stars on Wednesday night.  In that game, the Muskies dominated play for the first 40-50 minutes, but it was the Stars who eventually prevailed in OT thanks to some late game heroics by Ryan Dzingel, Matt Prapavessis, Kevin Murdock, and company.  The Muskies are only four points ahead of Lincoln in the standings, although the Stars have two games in hand compared to Sioux City.  The Muskies have played 32 games, while the Stars have played 30 games.  You have to figure that the Wednesday night game left the Muskies a little sour, and upset, so I expect them to come out strong once again Friday night.  The game Friday night at the IceBox will be the last game of a four-game home-stand for the Stars in which they are 2-1-0 so far.

The Stars will go on the road Saturday night to face the Dubuque Fighting Saints (18-8-5, 41 points, first place in the USHL Western Conference) for the last time in the regular season.  In their lone previous matchup on 12/11/10 at the IceBox, the Saints squeaked by the Stars by a score of 2-1.  The Saints have been in first place in the western conference for the majority of the season, but their lead is shrinking rapidly.  Coming into this weekend, the struggling Saints have lost three games in a row, and seven of their last eight.  This could be a great opportunity for the Stars to march into Dubuque and take two points away from a team that seems to have lost a lot of confidence as of late.  Although they are still in first place in the west, the Fargo Force are only one point behind them in the standings, and the Sioux Falls Stampede are only three points behind.

The Stars are winners of four of their last five games coming into the game Friday night against the Sioux City Musketeers.  In my opinion, one of the big reasons why the Stars are playing winning hockey is due the play of goaltender Kevin Murdock.  It has been pointed out by a few comments left here by blog readers, but the Stars have been giving up a ton of shots on net in the last four games.  Murdock has faced a total of 163 shots on net in the last four games, which averages out to 40.8 shots per game.  That number is way too high.  Without his play in net, the Stars wouldn't be above .500 right now.  The Stars need to figure out quickly why they are allowing so many shots on goal, and how to correct it.  This past Wednesday night, Lincoln forwards and defenseman left Kevin Murdock out to dry....big time.  That will have to change if the Stars want to continue to dig themselves out of last place in the western conference.

I ran out of time last night/this morning to get this weekend preview done, so I apologize for how short it is.  See you all at the IceBox tonight!

Go Stars.

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